The Thing (1982) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Thing1982

The Thing (1982)



Critic Consensus: Grimmer and more terrifying than the 1950s take, John Carpenter's The Thing is a tense sci-fi thriller rife with compelling tension and some remarkable make-up effects.

The Thing Videos

The Thing Photos

Movie Info

John Carpenter's The Thing is both a remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 film of the same name and a re-adaptation of the John W. Campbell Jr. story "Who Goes There?" on which it was based. Carpenter's film is more faithful to Campbell's story than Hawks' version and also substantially more reliant on special effects, provided in abundance by a team of over 40 technicians, including veteran creature-effects artists Rob Bottin and Stan Winston. The film opens enigmatically with a Siberian Husky running through the Antarctic tundra, chased by two men in a helicopter firing at it from above. Even after the dog finds shelter at an American research outpost, the men in the helicopter (Norwegians from an outpost nearby) land and keep shooting. One of the Norwegians drops a grenade and blows himself and the helicopter to pieces; the other is shot dead in the snow by Garry (Donald Moffat), the American outpost captain. American helicopter pilot MacReady (Kurt Russell, fresh from Carpenter's Escape From New York) and camp doctor Copper (Richard Dysart) fly off to find the Norwegian base and discover some pretty strange goings-on. The base is in ruins, and the only occupants are a man frozen to a chair (having cut his own throat) and the burned remains of what could be one man or several men. In a side room, Copper and MacReady find a coffin-like block of ice from which something has been recently cut. That night at the American base, the Husky changes into the Thing, and the Americans learn first-hand that the creature has the ability to mutate into anything it kills. For the rest of the film the men fight a losing (and very gory) battle against it, never knowing if one of their own dwindling number is the Thing in disguise. Though resurrected as a cult favorite, The Thing failed at the box office during its initial run, possibly because of its release just two weeks after Steven Spielberg's warmly received E.T.The Extra-Terrestrial. Along with Ridley Scott's futuristic Alien, The Thing helped stimulate a new wave of sci-fi horror films in which action and special effects wizardry were often seen as ends in themselves. ~ Anthony Reed, Rovi

Watch it now


Kurt Russell
as R.J. MacReady
Wilford Brimley
as Dr. Blair
Richard Dysart
as Dr. Copper
Peter Maloney
as Bennings
Norbert Weisser
as Norwegian
Larry Franco
as Norwegian Passenger with Rifle
Nate Irwin
as Helicopter Pilot
View All

News & Interviews for The Thing

Critic Reviews for The Thing

All Critics (74) | Top Critics (13)

Such a pity. John Carpenter is too gifted a moviemaker to let nauseating special effects take over his biggest, film, but that's what happened in The Thing.

November 8, 2021 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

The Thing is set in an all-male environment, and is as much a study of masculinity in crisis as an update of the sort of siege scenario that Carpenter had already played out in Assault on Precinct 13.

October 23, 2017 | Full Review…

The Thing is a peerless masterpiece of relentless suspense, retina-wrecking visual excess and outright, nihilistic terror.

May 25, 2011 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Carpenter's direction is slow, dark, and stately; he seems to be aiming for an enveloping, novelistic kind of effect, but all he gets is heaviness.

May 25, 2011 | Full Review…

The special effects can't hope to be as creepy to our seen-it-all eyes as they were to the film's first viewers, but we can still enjoy the monster's unique weirdness, and the story is a rock-solid yarn.

September 18, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It's pretty scary and entertaining stuff, though I always get the feeling that nothing in it lives up to the tremendous opening section.

September 18, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Thing


I finally got round to seeing this after hearing it being talked about as one of the best horror films ever made and a timeless classic. It is very good, it has some truly memorable scenes that are still pretty far out 26 years after it was made!!! It has some nice effects to, no CGI here and the creature in its forms looks great. Set in a great location for a horror, a strong cast, good director this can't fail to impress. If you've not seen it yet put it to the top of your want to see list.

Dean King
Dean King

Super Reviewer


Carptenter's horror classic is still one of the most drastically gory films of all times. Sure, the splatter effects did not age well, but some of them still make you really uneasy. Other than that the film works mostly thanks to its atmosphere and location. Still, some parts seem to drag on and hardly any of the characters grow on you enough to care about anything that's going on. Still got mixed feelings about this. It's just a little too ugly for my taste, even if you can't blame the creators for what they set out to deliver here.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

Helped by an evocative score and by astounding make-up and special effects, this gruesome sci-fi thriller is suspenseful and creates a highly claustrophobic atmosphere of nerve-wracking paranoia and tension, where no one knows who to trust and anyone can be The Thing.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The Thing Quotes

News & Features